SpaceShipTwo Glides Again

SpaceShipTwo dumps water. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Unity made its fifth glide flight over the Mojave Desert on Thursday.  According to the company

Today, VSS Unity pilots Dave Mackay and CJ Sturckow, had an equally busy test-card, but with the emphasis on proving the spaceship’s handling qualities, particularly at low speeds, with more weight on board than previously, and with a centre of gravity shifted towards the back of the vehicle.

This was achieved by loading around 1000lbs of water into a specially installed ballast tank in the rear of the spaceship’s fuselage. That enabled us to explore the flight conditions we will experience during rocket powered flights. By jettisoning the water ballast on descent, we were also able to confirm handling characteristics as the vehicle’s centre of gravity moved forward. Unity completed the flight with a safe and smooth landing in its lighter-weight configuration.

Today’s events represent another important milestone as we move towards the end of the of the initial glide test portion of the program and turn our attention to the spaceship’s propulsion system. To that end, as we analyse the data from today’s flight, we will be moving into a period of ground-based activity focussed on preparation for fuelled and then powered flights. As always, meticulous preparation and a focus on safety will determine next steps and timelines, but we expect to be back in the air in the not too distant future.

  • Hemingway

    Any word on engine tests in future?

  • Hemingway

    By the way Spaceport America wants more money from taxpayers! This is incredible – watch the video too! Enough is enough.

  • Hemingway

    Maybe another possible Branson brainstorm: Virgin Galactic will form a new business venture – Virgin Pizza – delivery to outer space:) It might increase pizza sales in Las Cruces? Of course Spacepork America will need more taxpayers’ money. LOL

  • Jacob Samorodin

    I still think they plan on doing the full ten planned glide-tests. The next one IMHO will do a MGW glide test, and the four remaining glide-tests will be to see how quickly they can prep the SS2 for flight operations. The four remaining glide-tests should go in quick succession. First powered-flight?….How about sometime between August and December?